Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Unified What?

The Unified New Orleans Plan, from what I have read about it in the NYTimes, has some good things going for it:
The plan calls for spending millions on libraries, recreation, utilities, schools, transportation, flood protection, health care and other areas.
And some iffy things going on:
One part of the new plan, much insisted on by the consultants Tuesday, appears to address that phenomenon by calling for incentives for homeowners and small businesses to encourage the creation of “sustainable clusters within their neighborhoods."
I have not read the plan. I plan on it, but I really am put off by some of this. I am glad that "Green-Space" ideas are gone. However, when I initially read this summary in the Times, I had a few thoughts...
  1. Are people willing to give up rights to the property they own to move into "clusters." When and how does one make the decision to do that? Do you come and work like a mad person on your house, the only person on your block to do so, and then find out that it would have made more sense to move two blocks over where three people on the same block have come back? How and when do you know? What do you do with your property?
  2. I didn't see in the summary anything about affordable housing. This is a major concern to me. If there are not affordable housing units, then it is going to take a long time for New Orleans to come back. Because not all New Orleanians are wealthy, white, or from Uptown. Everyone that can and wants to come back should be able to come back.
  3. Hope doesn't rebuild a city. Ask the Saints. While it was great to have something to look forward to each week, and it was a great ride, the Saints didn't rebuild New Orleans. They can help us all feel better and give us something in common, but the work needs to be done by the people on the ground. I guess specifics would be nice. And financing. Hope's not a bad thing. But I think that most of the machines that are going to help New Orleanians rebuild are in place (even if the Road Home is not all that welcoming).
People want to come home. This is a nice gesture, but I think people have had enough of gestures and talk and empty promises. I hope that that's not all this is.

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